Preparing the Military Family for the Journey: Streamlining the School Entry Process within the Special Education Landscape

By Shaw, Angela | The Exceptional Parent, September 2017 | Go to article overview

Preparing the Military Family for the Journey: Streamlining the School Entry Process within the Special Education Landscape


Shaw, Angela, The Exceptional Parent


The changing life-style of the military family may seem adventurous to their civilian counterparts, but those who choose this career and life path face a degree of challenge to sustain synchronization of their dual roles of protecting and serving the individuals of our nation, together with caring for the people in their own family. One such instance is relative to the mobility involved in a military life. Military families are on the move an average of every 2 to 4 years. Navigating the tides of such consistent change often serves to build strength and resilience, but it also requires a mindful approach for parents as they prepare for relocation.

A common thread within the military parent psyche is to structure their children's lives in a manner that will encourage and enhance determination, perseverance, and resilience as they acclimate and integrate within ever-changing environments. For parents who need to consider children with special needs, school moves can be even more challenging, due to a wide array of procedural differences across the nation. Navigating the transition process for students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEP) in place is eased through charting the course with some focused steps in preparation for new-school registration, even prior to your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.

Create an education binder for your child and hand-carry this essential portfolio with you when you move. Organize your child's documents from immunization records to IEP documents. The binder is a valuable tool in supporting appropriate placement and services for your child, as they transition from school to school. As documents are obtained, separate, categorize, and organize them into chronological order (with most current on top). Numbering each document and making a chronological list, to serve as a Table of Contents, can be included to support growth of the binder, as well as accessibility and understanding for the reader.

In order to remain proactive in your always-imminent departures and arrivals, connect with the attendance/registration clerk at your current and future sites. These folks are most up-to-date on education code and registration procedures. Krystal Hall, an attendance and registration clerk within the Snowline Joint Unified School District in CA, is a wealth of information for parents and children new to the school. Like many front office school personnel, Mrs. Hall wears various hats at her site. In Hall's case, she assists in coordinating Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) efforts at the school, which dovetails nicely with her role and the families she serves. PBIS is schoolwide approach to assist school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence based practices (EBP) to include interventions into an integrated continuum, in order to enhance academic and social behavioral outcomes for ALL students (www.pbis.org). Because of her specialization within the PBIS team, coupled with her knowledge of attendance and registration, Hall is mindful as she considers beneficial practices to support students during transitional times of their lives. She advises that in addition to immunization records, parents should have on-hand a copy of their most recent IEP document and, if applicable, behavior support plan (BSP) and health plan, in order to avoid possible lag time that may occur between exiting district and entering district, as back to school dates vary across districts. By providing paperwork that might otherwise be delayed, opportunity for a smoother transition with appropriate services and placement will occur. Some things that should be included in your child's education binder include, as applicable:

* Individualized Education Program (IEP) documents, including addendums.

* Behavior Support Plans (BSP)

* Health Plans

* Medication instructions and releases (if provided to student at school)

* Standardized evaluations, including psychoeducational, speech/language, occupational therapy, behavior, etc. …

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